COLUMBIA, Mo. - The parents and attorney of a man whose conviction was overturned held a press conference Tuesday evening.
Bill and Leslie Ferguson, the parents of Ryan Ferguson, and attorney Kathleen Zellner spoke to the media at the The Tiger Hotel in Columbia.
Earlier Tuesday, the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals overturned the murder and robbery convictions against Ferguson. In 2005, Ferguson was convicted for the 2001 Halloween night murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.
At the start of the press conference, Zellner read a letter from Ryan Ferguson, who remains in the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
"Thank you everyone for your continued support," the letter read. "We've won a major battle. However, the war continues. I need your help more now than ever. Look forward to sitting at the Thanksgiving table with my family if justice permits."
Zellner said Ferguson was happy after hearing the news.
"For the first time, I could see some joy in his face, which I had not seen before," she said.
She told reporters she will be in contact with the Attorney General and Boone County Prosecutor over the next several days as they await word on how the state plans to react to the ruling. The state has 15 days to decide whether to retry Ferguson. Zellner does not believe the Missouri Supreme Court will overturn the ruling.
Zellner said she would not discuss any possible civil actions following the case. Instead, they are focusing on getting Ferguson out of prison as soon as possible.
The Fergusons say they are relieved by the court's decision but won't rest until their son actually is freed.
"We will never surrender," said Bill Ferguson, Ryan's father.